On one of the greatest questionable hot-button errors of our time, the right and the left are talking former each other.
That communication might present as a microcosm for the bigger debate taking place in America today. People on the left tend to think that traditional is anti-Semitic xenophobes, and people on the right favor to believe that liberals have no concern in protecting Western culture (and likely even wish to disruption it!) and are ardent on importing more Democratic voters.
The voters, possibly, have gotten the memo. Republicans go on to lose the votes of minorities, while Democrats, combined with pro-immigration policies, are actually writing off huge swaths of white voters, with certain results.
This is the politics of poor faith, and it is compounded by the case that there are components of truth for those who need to qualify the lowest motives to their candidates. Many immigration destructionists really are racists. And a lot of the noisiest immigration advocates really do need to basically alter America (they are the ones flapping Mexican flags at immigration rallies, supporting sanctuary cities, and avoiding the rule of law).
Meanwhile, many working-class white Americans really do a problem that immigrants are taking the jobs of American workers, while (on the other hand) many hardworking immigrants easily need a chance to work hard and get the American dream for their children.
Both sides of this extreme debate also have sincere advocates who are trying to do what is correct. And the good news is that some of these more balanced arguments are completely getting a public hearing. There has been a much-needed tendency of reporters on the center-right and center-left making sense on immigration.
These voices commonly agree on a few things. Yes, America has improved highly from immigrants, and, yes, America is about an invitation, not blood or land or skin color. But no, America cannot take in unlimited numbers of immigrants and understand them into what might now amusingly be called liberal values.
At few point, combining too many immigrants leads to decreasing returns. At some point, it becomes impossible to impart the values of Western advancement. And at some point, too many immigrants result in a breakdown of trust and an atomizing of society. We become more selfish and less communitarian. These are results that no liberal should wish for.
On the other hand, there is surely some level of diversification that causes us to twist. There is a sweet spot. Rather than dismissing this truism, immigration advocates should be attentive to crossing the Mendoza line and making a backlash. But how much diversity is too much?
Perhaps that now-famous change between Miller and Acosta could offer us some proofs. At some point during their difference, Miller attempted to pin down Acosta, asking him: “In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that disobeying or not disobeying the Statue of Liberty law of the land?” Miller asked. “In the 1990s, when it was 500,000 a year, was it disobeying or not disobeying the Statue of Liberty law of the land?” To be assured, Miller wasn’t sincerely attempting to resolve this question. He was playing a “gotcha” game. Still, it’s worth considering.
Because the U.S. population always increment, it’s wrong to the idea of it in terms of a number. More proper would be a percentage. It stands to logic that there is some percentage where we reach that point of curtailing returns—a point at which assimilation becomes unthinkable. Finding that percentage, and governing clear of surpassing it, would probably be a win/win for the right and left. And, in defense of immigration destructionists, we are nearing the famous high point in terms of the percentage of the foreign-born population. On top of that, although it’s good to point out that there have always been traditional enclaves where English was the second language (how do you assume places got names like “Germantown”?), America is no doubt less well supplied to grasp immigrants today.
So what is that percentage? Is it 15 percent? Maybe 14? If we could decide on this (a big “if”), it would go a long way toward healing our politics, just as agreeing on some other fundamentals—when does life start, what share of GDP should be challenged by federal taxes?—would create our downstream political debates a small less toxic. Of course, that would be poor news for those who have a motivation to partition us.
Still, the sour debate between Acosta and Miller might have negligently shed some proof on areas of common ground. And it starts with this question: Is there some amount of immigration that the big majority of us can agree is healthy, and—if so—might this be grounds for an immigration adjustment?
With the percentage of valid immigrants established, we could then move on to a broader adjustment that might include permitting dreamers to stay, the structure of a border wall or front, and maybe—once it is certainly established that America controls its borders—a plan to humanely contract with undocumented immigrants. But if we can’t even agree on how much lawful immigration is beneficial for a solid America, it’s hard to imagine us ever getting around to the really healthy choices.